Kâachik What was life like at Kâachik ?

Charlie Peter CharlieCharlie Peter Charlie and Dagoo at Kâachik

Downriver from Kâachik is Old Crow and east of Kâachik is Fort McPherson and in the middle is Kâachik . From there where we made our living is Dagoo Country. It used to be a community just like Old Crow.

... This is where the Dagoo people worked for a living. We travelled this area too, head of Bell River, head of Ch’oodèenjik , and lots of big rivers: Sheihveenjik , Ch’inèetsii Njik , Ni’iinlii Njik , on all these we trapped. This is where we were all raised: John Charlie, Johnny Charlie. John Nukon stayed about 70 miles from us. A t Kâachik , my father, my uncle, my grandfather were all there. Sometimes one other family stayed there with us. When I left, there were 11 houses and about two caches each, and I don’t know how many flat caches. Every house had two caches, one for food and one for fur. By the end of February, you should see that cache for fur, lots. Me, Lazarus, Alfred and my father all trapped. Sometimes I got over 100 tsuk , 100 niinjii by myself, lots of fur.

I think 1950 [was the last time we visited there]. There was no fur so we moved to Old Crow. Around Christmas and New Year’s I went back and picked up the rest of my stuff, traps and everything. This was in 1950 and that was the first year I went to Crow Flats. My family and all, there was no school then so wherever we went, we took our kids. ...

Johnson Creek is called Ch’aghòo Njik. Between the head of Ch’aghòo Njik and Old Crow there is a mountain that is shaped like an egg and the river flows right next to it. That is why it’s called Ch’aghòo Njik. Around there is a mountain that is really steep and you can’t travel on it, only if you’re walking. This mountain is called Nachii’ijìi. It is between Ch’aghòo Njik and Tl’iiyeenjik. Us, we just hunted that way, that’s all, but didn’t trap. Across from there is a mountain that is just timber and steep, too, and the small mountain is called Natl’at Khàhditrèe, [cranberries crying out] and next to that is Zhoh Drin Choo.

Caribou country, and in all that area are moose too. We mostly lived on moose, just sometimes we got caribou. We knew where it was good for moose, animals, and trapping. Even when the kids were really small, they knew about these areas and what area was good for certain kinds of animals. When they got older nobody had to tell them where to go to hunt or stuff like that. And they already been to these areas so they knew and that is where and how they made their living. Not only up there, here in Old Crow too, McPherson, Fort Yukon too. All over, people lived like that. It used to be what people did, how they made their living. The young people just take over the same way.

In 1950, I never even spoke English nor understood [it], I just stayed in the bush. I knew my way pretty good, home, life, and I still use it and live this way. My grandfather’s name was Charlie; he made a good living. He didn’t need a tent, stove: he just shovelled snow and a place to sleep, a fire there, that’s how he lived. That’s where I learned. I learned lots from him. Every night I sat with him and my grandmother and he told me stories, stories from long ago. He told me about everything and all this I know. I never understood English and he spoke to me in Gwich’in only I heard everything real good and I still remember and I still use it. If I was going to go and make something, I didn’t have to ask how do you make this and that. Over half my life was that way.

There is everything out on the land, but moose is what we really lived on. There was lots around. In the fall we killed lots of moose and we fixed the meat up really well and brought it home to Kâachik and then the ladies dried it. That was for the following fall, not to be used right away. In June when we came back to Old Crow, we had more moose meat than anything else. At that time we never had freezers, so for the next day’s supper they put it in water the night before. The next day it’s just like fresh meat, it’s not dry they use it. This is how they lived. All the animals they dried and the following summer, they put [the dry meat] in water and cook it and it’s really good.